The July 2014 Ride of the Month is: Chris Carney's '68 GT-E

Here is something the Mustang guys will never say: “The '68, with it’s 427, just barely edged out the '69 428 Cobra Jet for the win.” That sure is fun.

Once again we have a very close finish for Ride of the Month!

Congratulations to Chris Carney and his '68 Standard GT-E for the win.




The story of Chris Carneys '68 GT-E
Kurt Strong’s dad didn’t care much for hot-rodding. He was sure that the engineers at Ford knew what they were doing. Certainly they knew a lot more than a bunch of kids turning wrenches. If you wanted a fast car, then the thing to do was to just buy one. With that thought in mind, he took Kurt to Myers Ford in Freeport Illinois with the instruction that he should order the car exactly the way he wanted it. The order was placed with Ford that afternoon, the 17th of January 1968. Later that evening, President Johnson would give the State of the Union address.

After what seemed like a very long wait the car was delivered on March 22nd. For Kurt, life revolved around finishing his first year of junior college and his summer job working at the old Kelly Springfield tire plant. Coming home from work one night he got a little too deep into the 427 and blew the motor. Myers Ford eventually agreed to cover it under warranty. He drove the car a bit more carefully, until he had graduated from college, and decided it was time to trade the Cougar in on a used Mustang that got much better mileage.

in 1970 Rick Manus would become the next owner and the Cougar would roam the streets of nearby German Valley Illinois. The GT-E took Rick and his girl friend on many dates and eventually to their wedding. Rick sold the Cougar in '73 in act of practicality, but never stopped thinking about the blue Cougar. In '73 the Cougar moved east to Yeagertown PA, now in the hands of Rick’s cousin, Scott Searer. He would own the Cougar for almost 10 years selling it to James Parson of Bellwood PA in '84.

Rick Manus never really stopped thinking about his old Cougar and in 1991 he was on the hunt for a replacement. An ad in Hemmings Motor News described a GT-E that was amazingly similar to his old car, but it was almost 700 miles away. He went to see the car and was surprised to learn that he had found his original car. The GT-E would return home to German Valley.

Rick would do a painstakingly careful restoration of the Cougar, bringing it back to like new condition. Fortunately for Rick the Cougar was still mostly complete even including the original exhaust tips. The Cougar went on to win several trophies including Best of Show at the 2000 CCOA nationals in Lincoln IL. He would own the Cougar for the next 14 years, placing it on Ebay for sale in 2005.

Chris Carney paid $225 for his first Cougar. In 1977 that would buy a pretty nice car. His first Cougar was a two tone, Arctic White over Nordic Blue, it had aluminum slotted mags, a 302, and an automatic. He would have driven it until he wore it out, but one very cold day in Louisiana the block froze and cracked. It doesn’t get cold very often that far south, but when it does, bad things happen. Chris ended up swapping the Cougar for some car parts, and his brother and a friend ended up dropping a 429 in it along with a straight axle, turning the Cougar into a race car.

Memories of his first car did not fade away. Maybe the New Years holiday makes us remember the past, but twenty five years after parting with his old Cougar, Chris was scanning Ebay and found a beautiful Nordic Blue Cougar GT-E. The timing of the auction seemed peculiar as it ended at 5 PM on January 2nd. Chris was betting correctly that there wouldn’t be a lot of competition bidding on the Cougar and he was right winning the car at a reasonable price.

Accompanied by his then 13 year old son, Chris picked the car up in Pennsylvania and drove it home. The GT-E’s new home would be in DeWitt Arkansas. Rick had saved virtually ever document relating to the car and documented the restoration process, and Chris documented virtually every inch of the car in photographs when he got home.

The GT-E is a very nicely optioned car. It is a Standard Cougar, Nordic Blue with Black Decor seats. Like all 427 equipped GT-Es is has the C6 Merc-O-Matic transmission and a 3.50 standard axle ratio. Options include Radial Tires, Electric Clock, Console with center storage space, Power steering, Power disc brakes, AM Radio, Decor Group, Tinted Glass, and Styled steel wheels (included in the GT-E package.)

Nordic Blue looks terrific over the silver lower body side trim, but this was one of only three GT-Es built with this paint and trim combination. It is also the earliest known GT-E to come equipped with the C80E N 9060 heads. It retains many original items including the VIN stamped transmission, VIN stamped and date matched heads, Exhaust tips, Buck tag, most of theinterior, and possible the original engine. It was previously believed that the block might have been swapped out when the engine was blown but further investigation indicates that it might have been retained and rebuilt. An evaluation of build date stamps will hopefully add more information to the story. The current block is, at the very least, a contemporary service block.

Chris is currently deeply involved in the “rustoration” of a '69 R code. When he completes that he will start on a complete restoration of the GT-E. he say that from 10 feet the paint still looks good, but up close it is starting to show its age. In the mean time, it means that Chris can drive and enjoy this fantastic example of one of the most amazing Mercurys ever built. I suspect that he shows those sequential tail lights to lot of unsuspecting folks all around central Arkansas.

Congrats Chris! Those 427s pull hard at the finish line. Beautiful car! Another nice write up, Bill. :thumbup:

Ditto’s on the win Chris, beautiful Cat and Ditto’s on Bill’s write up :beerchug: Man there are a bunch of sweet members rides in the community :smoke:

OH MY GOODNESS! SEXY SEXY SEXY COUGAR! 'NUF SAID?

Congratulations on the ROTM victory! If that car is ever for sale I call first dibbs!

Congrats :slight_smile: very nice car indeed :slight_smile:

Thanks to each of you for your comments! And to everyone who votes in Ride of the Month! Thanks especially to Bill for putting this together every month!

I’ve alway know the owners of the car from the paperwork that came with it. I also knew the state, town and the occupation of the original owner. I had done a search and found him without any trouble at all.

In January this year I finally sent him an email with some pictures asking him a few questions about his old car including why he bought it. Here is the text from his response.



"Dear Chris,
It was nice to see my old car again. It represents a earlier time in my
life to me. My dad bought this car for me when I was in my 1st year of
junior college from Myers Ford here in Freeport, IL. He had me order
everything I wanted on the car, in hopes that I wouldn’t modify it.

While coming home from work at our old Kelly Springfield Tire Plant where
I was working during the summer, I was running it pretty fast & it blew
the motor. Myers Ford finally agreed to replacing the motor.

I traded the cougar in after I graduated from college for a used mustang
that got much better mileage. I was traveling a lot more and the gas was a
real drain on me. I think I traded it in at Myers Ford.

I don’t have any pictures or records of the car because at that age I just
didn’t think about those things. I have no knowledge what happened to the
car after I traded it in. Sorry!

Wish you well,
Kurt Strong"

Happy 4th and congrats on a very nice car with a cool story that goes with it. :beerchug:

Congrats! Great looking car and love that color! Seems familiar. LOL

Love the color. An amazing story.

Congratulations on winning a Ride of the Month.
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Congratulations Chris, That is one sweet looking GTE.

Congrats Chris. She is a gem and it’s great knowing the history of her too.
Fantastic write up Bill.